2014 NHL Draft Prospect: Shane Gersich

Tom Sorensen

The Player

Shane Gersich

Forward

US NTDP U18

2013-2014 stats: 61 games 16 goals 16 assists 32 points 18 PIMs

Height: 5'11" Weight: 175 lbs.

Final NHL Central Scouting ranking: 132nd among NA skaters

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Gersich is a magnificent skater, maybe one of the best in the draft. He's got a great combination of speed and strength on his skates. The problem is that Gersich's hands and hockey sense have never quite been able to keep up with his feet, and he struggles using that speed to amount to much offensive production on the ice. He's too easily knocked off the puck, and is an average passer. His work in the defensive zone has improved over the past year.

How was his draft year? Trending up or down?

After being considered one of the best players in the state of Minnesota as a youngster, and being selected first overall in the USHL Futures Draft two years ago, Gersich has generally been trending downward, as he never quite developed into the scorer he was projected as. For his draft year, he left the Minnesota high school ranks to the play with the NTDP U18 team. He generally had a strong year with the U18s, but finished seventh among forwards on his team with scoring, tallying only about a half-point-per-game, while potential first round picks in this draft like Alex Tuch and Dylan Larkin averaged about a point-per-game.

Draft projection?

There's no doubt Gersich has slipped in the rankings, the question will be how much. NHL Central Scouting already dropped him from 81 to 132 between the mid-terms and their final rankings. It's hard to believe Gersich would fall much lower, but sometimes the snowball effect can come into play for once-touted prospects who struggled in their draft year(see Seth Ambroz or Nick Ebert).

It is worth noting that Gersich performed exceptionally well at the NHL Combine. He finished first overall in four tests, including the standing long jump, which some believe might be the most valuable predictor among Combine tests. That said, there were never any questions about Gersich's physical abilities to skate; it's more about what he's capable of doing on the ice as a scorer. Unless a team is convinced his offensive skills will develop in the future, Gersich will likely slip into the sixth or seventh round, and runs the risk of not being drafted at all.

Pro upside?

Gersich projects as a smooth-skating two-way forward. He definitely has the speed to play in the NHL. He'll need to add a little bit more muscle and become a bit more defensive-minded, but he could play a third or fourth line role at the NHL-level. His upside seems fairly limited because he doesn't project as much of a scorer, but because it seems unlikely that he gets any slower, his odds of reaching his potential are better than many prospects.

Where will he go next?

Gersich will play next season for the Omaha Lancers in the USHL. There was a time where it was thought that Gersich might accelerate his schooling to play for the University of North Dakota, where he has a college commitment, next season, but it was decided that Gersich would see more ice time and get more opportunity to develop his skills with a year in the USHL prior to heading to Grand Forks.

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